Renting your home in Montgomery County and the surrounding areas includes a lot of responsibility.
From tenant screening to collecting monthly rent payments and everything in between, it is easy for a landlord to neglect what is a major part of the rental home: large appliances.
Appliances in your rental home are generally considered pieces of equipment that perform domestic chores.
By definition, the refrigerator, stove/oven, dishwasher, and washer/dryer units would then be considered appliances.
It is not uncommon, especially in the affluent Montgomery County area, to include appliances in your rental home for use by the tenant. Potential tenants are drawn to homes that include all appliances and landlords that provide those appliances are often able to charge higher rent with the reasoning that including appliances is a bonus to renting the home.
Though there are no laws requiring landlords to include appliances within their rental home, in order to remain competitive in the rental market and keep up with potential tenants’ expectations, many landlords opt to provide them in their rental properties.
The problem arises, however, is that landlords often forget to maintain the appliances they allow their tenants to use so regularly.
Since landlords are not living in the home, general upkeep of large appliances is often left to the tenant, who may not be tending to the appliances as they should. This leaves room for the possibility that your large appliances — the ones you so kindly offer to the tenants you rent your home to – will break before their average lifespan is up.
Let’s take a look at some large appliance maintenance tips so that you can continue to offer your tenants the luxury of appliances, without losing money in the process due to early breakage.
Appliance Inventory & Lease Options
It is important to note the complexity that comes with appliance responsibility within a rental home.
The bottom line is, unless it is spelled out clearly in the lease agreement, there is no specific law stating appliances are required in rental homes or who is responsible when a large appliance breaks.
It is wise to include provisions in your lease agreement so that should a major issue arise, the lease agreement will hold up in court.
It is imperative you discuss the details regarding appliance care, maintenance, and responsibility with your tenant at the lease signing, whether you choose to remain responsible for all appliances or not.
One option is to include an appliance checklist within the tenant manual that you should provide to your tenants. This checklist will inventory all appliances you choose to provide in your rental home. This checklist might include information such as:
- The property name/address/unit number
- List of appliances
- Dates of purchase
- Warranty information
- Appliance model/serial numbers
- Detailed descriptions
- An inspection/maintenance list
Providing this detailed list of information to your tenant in addition to the lease agreement will help clear up any confusion regarding maintenance obligations for both parties. This information will assure your protection if a tenant damages, breaks, or steals your appliances and a dispute results. It will also protect the tenant should any pre-existing damages exist.
To Buy or Repair
The general rule when it comes to purchasing new appliances for your home is if the repair costs more than half the cost of a new appliance and the appliance is more than halfway through its useful lifespan, buy a new one.
To get an idea of the general lifespans of some major appliances that may be in your rental home, take a look at the following list:
|Appliance||Average Lifespan (Years)|
Appliance Care Suggestions
In addition to providing a detailed list of maintenance obligations to your tenants, follow these suggested tips on maintaining your appliances between tenants to help keep your appliances in tip-top shape.
- Test the door seal by closing the door on a dollar bill. If the bill slips, replace the rubber gasket that keeps cold air in and hot air out.
- If too much heat is getting in, your fridge will have to work double time to keep cool.
- Magnetic strips embedded in the gaskets around refrigerator doors make doors close snugly, but they routinely wear out and should be replaced or re-magnetized every couple of years.
- Clean the condenser coils in the back of your fridge. They cool and condense refrigerant, releasing the heat your appliance produces while turned on.
- Dust and pet hair can clog the condensers placing extra stress on the appliance.
- Level the fridge (side-to-side and back-to-front) or it will not close properly.
- An uneven fridge will strain the motors and cause condensation inside.
- To check for unevenness, place a level on the top of the fridge rotating the adjustable feet until level.
- Replace the water filter to ensure clean water and ice and to prevent clogs and leaks.
- After you replace the filter, run a couple of gallons of water through it to remove any carbon residue in the filter.
If you feel you might need to purchase a new refrigerator, check out this useful information.
- Place heavy pots gently on smooth-top stoves to avoid breakage.
- Never cover drip pans with foil, which can short-circuit the burner.
- Keep reflector bowls beneath burners shiny to reflect heat.
- Periodically clean gas burner ports with a needle.
- Don’t poke the igniters or spray them with cleaners.
- Check oven door seals. If heat is escaping, adjust or replace the rubber gasket.
- Make sure your tenant understands how to properly load the dishwasher.
- Rinsing of dishes before loading is important to prevent clogs.
- Overcrowding the dishwasher will affect the spraying mechanisms resulting in poor washing.
- Recommend proper detergent for your model.
- Often powder detergents work more efficiently and leave less residue inside the appliance that can potentially affect drainage of water and plug filters.
- Other tips: clean/replace filters regularly, unclog spray arms, and replace dish racks to prevent corrosion and residue.
- Inspect the washing machine hoses for bulges, cracks, and leaks.
- Burst hoses can spill hundreds of gallons of water an hour, flooding your home.
- Tighten loose fittings.
- Replace hoses every five years.
- Clean the rubber gaskets and drums on washers and dryers with a solution of equal parts water and vinegar.
- Remove and clean out the entire exhaust duct line from dryer to exterior.
- Clogged ducts can cause house fires and an average of about $10,000 worth of damages.
- Make sure the dryer’s hinged exterior vent pops open when the dryer runs.
- Inspect the dryer exhaust duct for crimps, obstructions, and bending.
- Do not overload either appliance past the manufacturer’s recommendations.
- Overloading can cause damage and burn motors out quickly.
Appliances can be amazing amenities for your rental properties. They can attract quality tenants, increase the monthly rent collection, and put you at the top of the competition.
However, both short-term and long-term care of these large appliances is essential so that your added income is not wasted on repairs or replacements of these large appliances.
Enlisting the help of your favorite Montgomery County property management group, whether your rental property is in Bethesda, Chevy Chase, or even Silver Spring, can help relieve the headache of appliance responsibility and maintenance, as well as reduce any potential disputes, should the appliance breakdown.
Let us help you determine what to include in your rental home so you can rest easy at night knowing your property is in good hands.